UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy may be the most economically-reform-minded politician running for president, but yesterday night he tempered such talk of liberalization with a dose of old fashioned protectionism.
Blaming the euro for low wages, promising to reintroduce "community preference" in the European Union and to combat "social, monetary and ecological dumping", Mr Sarkozy launched an attack on "free trade", which he called a "policy of naivety".
"Look at the waste of Arcelor, which we sold off on the cheap because we believed that the steel industry was history. They got it wrong. They lied," said Mr Sarkozy to a cheering crowd at Lille's Palais des Congrès. "If I am president, then France will have a real industrial policy."
You cannot fault him for political adroitness; being the candidate of painful reform while appearing on the side of the workers. It must be working somewhat, simply considering his place in the polls.
Sarkozy's campaign also un/intentionally leaked his upcoming manifesto, which includes a recognition of last year's "No" vote against the EU constitution.
In his manifesto, leaked this week by La Tribune, Mr Sarkozy said: "Europe must not be the Trojan horse of globalisation reduced to circulation of capital and goods, but must on the contrary protect people within globalisation."
He added: "This is what we were told by those who voted No in the referendum on the (European) constitution. It is a political fact.
"I want to say that I have heard them."
One cannot help but think of his last quote in the context of something quite different, and someone with whom Sarkozy would not wish to be compared.
I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
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